In the course of our work at the District Attorney’s Office, we often discover new and better ways to look at, organize, and interpret the data. We make changes and updates to the Public Data Dashboard to keep it as accurate and informative as possible. We also want to be clear to users of this site about the changes we’ve made. This page is a timeline of updates, fixes, and changes that we’ve implemented.
The data download page and the data available to the public has changed significantly.
Fixed some pre-2015 incidents and arrests classifications which resulted in zero-counts for some categories. Thanks to the folks at DVIC for their quick work updating the incidents dataset. Additionally, downloadable data now includes statistics back to January 1, 2010; previously historical data was only available back to 2014.
We have added four more years of historical data to all dashboard pages. Data previously only went back as far as 2015, now we show back to 2011. The dashboard tables have been modified with a few features that will allow us to display more data while also improving the dashboard for users with smaller screens and mobile devices:
We made two significant updates:
We updated our outcomes to properly identify cases that have completed the ‘Alternative Felony Disposition’ (‘AFD’) program and mark them as ‘Diversion’. In our data systems, AFD-completed cases result in a case outcome of ‘Nolle Prossed’ or ‘Withdrawn’, but by using the court room they are disposed in and the docket entries written by the court clerk, we are now able to distinguish these cases that have completed this relatively new diversion program. We also further re-classified a small number of retail theft cases that were resolved by a ‘satisfaction agreement’ as Diversion. For more information about the DAO’s approach to diversion, check out the DAO website.
We have adjusted how we classify Homicide: Shooting and Non-Fatal Shooting cases in all of our data.
We have added the ability to directly link to items on the Research page. Each item also now contains a Copy Link button to allow for easy sharing of direct URLs to each item.
We added a story describing how Philadelphia sought accountability and justice following the 2020 civil unrest that immediately followed George Floyd and Walter Wallace’s murders.
We have made several content and user experience updates to the dashboard. This is the first in a series of updates over the next few months to improve the dashboard.
We made a number of small improvements:
We have improved our ability to categorize non-traditional diversion programs in our ‘Diversion’ outcome category. In particular we are now capturing cases where a person charged with a misdemeanor (usually drug possession) pleads to a summary offense in lieu of entering a diversion program. Many people in this program are ineligible for other diversion programs. This change was retroactive, so it restated outcomes for prior years. In 2019, for example, it increased the diversion rate for drug possession cases by approximately 6 percentage points.
We have added a DAO Publications section to the Research Page. This section includes reports on internal studies at the District Attorney’s Office. We have also reorganized the menu to simplify it and make it more clear which reports are year-to-date and which are year-end.
We have added a line denoting March 2020 to all reports. This was the month that the COVID-19 pandemic forced a shutdown of many essential government functions in Philadelphia, including the court system. It also lead to several policy changes in the Philadelphia Police Department and at the District Attorney’s Office. The purpose of this addition is to enable users of the site to more easily view the data in the context of the pandemic. We have also changed the text of two firearms labels to more clearly state what the data shows: ‘All Firearms Offenses’ has become ‘All Firearms Possession’ and ‘Possession of Firearms’ has become ‘Illegal Firearms Possession’.
We added in ‘Non-Fatal Shootings’ as an offense category. We identify these cases based on the Open Data Philly Shooting Victims dataset.
We are now able to identify cases in which the defendant has been exonerated or won their case on an appeal. This is reflected in the Case Outcomes report. Previously, these cases would appear as ‘Dismissed/Withdrawn/Etc.’ This is counted at the time that the exoneration or resolution of the appeal occurs. As these cases are resolved, you may see minor adjustments to cases in previous years. Details on exonerations can still be found on the Exonerations page.
We improved the quality of bail information that is on the dashboard. In particular, we can now distingiush between monetary bail and unsecured bail (SOB), we can distinguish ROR from held without bail, and we have very few unknown bail amounts. This was made possible through a large batch of updated data that the DAO received from the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts.
We added a report detailing the exonerations that have occurred since 2016. You can find basic information about each exoneration and links to more information about exonerations in Philadelphia.
We added a report that shows the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the criminal justice system in Philadelphia.
Updates and fixes, including:
Hotfix: Fixed the calculation of 18-present year averages related to the start of the new year. Data downloads were not affected by this bug.
Hotfix: Fixed a calculation issue that would cause the dashboard build to fail at the start of the new year. Users should not notice a difference in functionality.
Added Updates page.
We discovered that due to server issues in May and June of 2019, we were missing some sentencing information from that time. This caused artifically low numbers to appear in the Future Years of Supervision and Future Years of Incarceration reports for these months. We have updated how we connect cases to their sentence information, and are now capturing this missing data. We are also capturing more sentencing information in other time frames, though the impact is not as noticeable.
Various bug fixes, including: